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Phillies 1, Tigers 0: Brother, can you spare a run?

On the plus side, a bullpen day that could’ve gone terribly for the Tigers saw everybody pitch-in and do a decent job.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into tonight’s game, the Detroit Tigers had lost four games in a row on their road trip: a sweep at the hands of the White Sox, and a lousy loss in the first game of the current three-game series in Philadelphia. The offense has been, well, offensive.

Could they turn it around on Tuesday?

Alas, they could not. A solo home run in the first inning was the game’s only run, as Philadelphia sent the Tigers to their fifth straight loss.

Showing just how desperate the Tigers are for starting pitching these days, Tyler Alexander started for the Tigers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always appreciated Mr. Alexander’s contributions to the team... but, let’s face it, we shouldn’t be thrilled as Tiger fans when he gets a start. It was his first of the season, after 16 appearances in relief; last year he made 17 starts and 10 relief appearances. This was going to be a bullpen day for the Tigers; the big question was, how many innings could they get out of Alexander?

Taijuan Walker got the start for the Phillies. He’s a veteran who made his debut in 2010 with the Mariners, and spent a few years each with them and Arizona, and a cup of coffee with Toronto in 2020. This is his first year with the Phillies, and it’s not going terribly well so far: in 12 starts coming into tonight’s game he had a 5.65 ERA, a WHIP of 1.448, and a bit north of four walks per nine innings. But hey, it’s the Tigers, so obviously he was going to have a good game.

The Phillies wasted no time getting on the board, as Kyle Schwarber clubbed a leadoff home run to right-center in the bottom of the first; as you well know, it was the only run of the game. But then Alexander settled down and retired the next nine batters, ending his start at three solid innings.

Meanwhile, Walker struck out six Tigers the first time through the lineup, five on splitters. We’ve seen this script before: mediocre starter faces Detroit, strikes out everyone, has game of their life. It was shaping up to be just that through the first third of the game.

José Cisnero took over for Alexander in the fourth. He was fine.

Going into the fifth inning, for the second straight day, the Tigers were looking for their first hit. Thankfully, with one out in the fifth, Zach Short got Detroit off the schneid with a single to right, and Miguel Cabrera followed with a double to right, putting runners on second and third. Jake Rogers walked, loading the bases for The Other Jake, Marisnick. He struck out, then Short lined out to deep centre, and so much for that threat.

Tyler Holton replaced Cisnero in the fifth, and after an infield single by Bryson Stott, Short made a great play to snag a line drive on the backhand; since Stott was off with the pitch, he was already at second base when Short casually tossed the ball over to first base for the double play.

Akil Baddoo then made a solid play of his own, taking a great route to a sinking line drive and making a diving catch on the left-centerfield warning track.

Holton carried on into the sixth and allowed a leadoff single to Kody Clemens, and he went to second on a wild pitch, but no other damage was done. I think Holton’s been one of the best surprises of the Tigers’ pitching staff this year. What a pickup.

Walker kept on dominating the Tigers lineup; he got through a season-high seven innings only giving up two hits, walking three and, yep, striking out a season-high eight batters.

Will Vest came on for the seventh and his slider was absolutely sensational. There was something a little different about it tonight. Maybe it was because of ghosts? Ghouls? We’ll keep looking into it. He got a pair of strikeouts with it, including one that bounced.

Craig Kimbrel came on for the save in the ninth, and he got it by striking out the side.

It’s a Little Hazy Out There

There are some big wildfires burning in Quebec these days, and a northerly wind is blowing all the smoke south and a bit west. This was the skyline in Philadelphia; the air quality today in Toronto was the third-worst in the world. Even in Michigan, a fairly thick haze covered the landscape.

Starting Pitcher Injury Update

[insert polite golf clap here]

Notes and Such

  • Javier Báez, OPS... March 30 through April 13 (45 plate appearances): .328. April 14 through May 5 (71 PA): .964. May 6 through June 5 (115 PA): .434. Ouch.
  • Kody Clemens is playing quite a bit of first base for the Phillies these days. His OPS has increased this year from .505 last year to a respectable .745 this year, an OPS+ of 103, because of course it has.
  • Monday’s and Tuesday’s games started at 6:40 pm EDT. Wednesday’s game is scheduled to start at 6:05 pm EDT. Why all the confusing start times, including 11:35 in the darn morning?! In my day, you had three start times: 1:35, 7:35 and the good ol’ twi-night doubleheader at 5:05. AND THAT’S THE WAY IT WAS AND YOU LIKED IT.
  • We need to take a minute to acknowledge the passing of Brazilian bossa nova singer Astrud Gilberto on Monday, at the age of 85. She had a long career in jazz, starting in the mid-1960s, and kept releasing records into her 60s. Probably her most famous contribution to the musical canon is her part in singing the English-language lyrics to “The Girl From Ipanema” by Stan Getz and her husband, João. If you’ve never listened to this song closely, it’s just magnificent. Put it on, turn out the lights, close your eyes, and just listen.